Soto Miroku (11) achieved her first Grand Slam in junior golf

The child, Soto Miroko, who turned eleven in August this year, was able to cause a sensation in the world of golf, after she managed to win the European Children’s Championship organized by the US Kids Golf Foundation last June. Miroku started playing at the age of one, and now spends three to four days a week away from home, immersed in rehearsals. In this article, we shed light on this rising star and her family.

The wonder girl

Soto Miroko made history when he won the European Children’s Golf Championship, held at the Royal Musselburgh Golf Club in Scotland, an ancient course founded in the eighteenth century AD. Soto shot 54 holes during her three-day winning streak and finished 14 holes ahead of her nearest second-place opponent. It is noteworthy that Miroku won the Junior World Championship in 2017 and 2018, the Malaysian World Championship in 2019 and the World Junior Championship in 2021 respectively, thus becoming the first player to win four major championships in the world of junior golf.

With a beaming smile Miroku introduces herself “I started golf when I was a year and a half old and trained with the aim of winning the four Grands Prix. I am honored to be the first junior golfer to achieve this feat.”

But Miroko’s ambitions are not limited to junior competitions. She aspires to win the gold medal at the 2032 Brisbane Olympic Games and to become the most famous golfer in the world.

If there is one word that can describe Miroku and her family, it is exceptional. She does what no one else has done before, she is the epitome of genius.

Since she first picked up golf at such a young age, Miroko has continued to improve her skills under the guidance of her father, Soto Kenichi, a Buddhist scholar and former professor at the University of Tokyo. Under the tutelage of her father, Miroku won the 2017 and 2018 World Junior Championships, gaining overnight fame for her famous post-match statement: “I’m number one!”

Difficult workouts

The Sotos’ educational philosophy is unique: they don’t put too much emphasis on going to school. They enroll Miroko in a public elementary school in her hometown of Ota, Gunma Prefecture, but she only attends two or three days a week, spending most of her time honing her golf skills at the family’s second home in Hitachi Omiya , to perfect Ibaraki. Prefecture, near a golf course 5 Country Sunnyfield, which is his permanent training center.

“Parents need to think with their children about the best ways to help them develop their unique qualities and strengths,” says Kenichi. Of course, this is based on the assumption that they know exactly what makes their children tick. In Miroku’s case, golf was everything to her. Miroku practices golf six to ten hours a day in Ibaraki and also keeps up with her studies, always gets good grades and doesn’t have to go to school most days of the week.”

The Soto family’s educational philosophy also applied to the two sons, Momotaro and Monjo. When Miroku played in Scotland in June this year, her two brothers took time out of school to personally cheer her up. All five family members, including mother Miyuki, traveled to Scotland to cheer the daughter on, after which they toured Britain, visited London and spent a full day at the British Museum there.

Miroku describes her impressions of the museum: “There were so many mummies, it was incredible! I was surprised that female mummies had breasts.” She says her father noticed that although the museum was very cool, many of the exhibits were brought to Britain from former colonies, some even called it a museum of booty. But there is also a positive side to this matter, namely that the theft and collection of these antiquities has preserved them here to a great extent, and also enabled scientists to study them. We must know that “the world is complicated”.

“We develop our senses by seeing things with our eyes and experiencing them with the rest of our senses,” said Miyuki, her eyes focused on her children. I think we learn many things more deeply through practice than from textbooks.”

Yokomine Sakura’s father trains Miroku

Kenichi, inexperienced in the world of golf, says he’s read over 1,000 golf guides to find the right techniques to teach Miroku, but he doesn’t fully trust his own abilities, having hired other instructors to help her train. Among the many instructors who have trained Miroku is Yokumin Yoshiro, whom they call “Coach”.

Coach Yoshiro Yokumen, left, instructs Soto Miroku.

Yokomin “Father and former coach of the 23-time Japan women’s champion Yokumine Sakura” began coaching Miroko in August 2022. In addition to Sakura, Yoshiro also coached others in their childhood, including his eldest daughter Rui, as well as champion golfers Kuzuma Genichiro and Wakimura Tomoya, Izumedo Daijirō and Kuzuma Kotono. “Looking back, I enjoyed my life more when Sakura was Miroku’s age,” Yokumin says. I am delighted to once again bring my expertise to the pro golf game with Miroku. She is a very talented girl.” “I hope to help her develop into a golfer greater than Sakura.” It seems that Miroko is also very excited as she is under a senior coach as great as mr. Yokomin is practicing.

American professional golfer Grant Godfrey was also assisted as coach for a short period. Kenichi explains another benefit of Godfrey’s services: “By talking to Grant, Miroku was also able to get free English lessons.”

Miroku has a special training environment, and the family’s home in Ota even has a 50-meter garden, where Miroku can practice long shots. They also have a 10-metre artificial grass course, and the family has installed state-of-the-art golf simulator equipment in the home’s garage, which can measure distance, spin and initial ball velocity. While in Hitachi Omiya, Miroku would like to practice at the 5 Country Sunnyfield Golf Course.

    Soto Miroku trains with her father, Kenichi, in the family garage, using a simulator that can measure distance, spin and ball speed.
Soto Miroku trains with her father, Kenichi, in the family garage, using a simulator that can measure distance, spin and ball speed.

12 sponsorship deals

This year, with its inception, brought good news for the little girl who dreams of becoming the first in the world in the game of golf. Sponsorship restrictions for amateur players have been lifted. Since then, offers have poured in for the promising player.

Soto Miroko practices her short shot indoors with her father.
Soto Miroko practices her short shot indoors with her father.

Starting with signing his first sponsorship contract with the well-known golf equipment store Golf 5, Miroku now has sponsorship contracts with major companies such as furniture giant Nitori, sweets maker and seller Oha Mikakoto, and Ishido School for teaching soroban. decimal system”, the car dealer “100% Shinshakan”, the beverage company “Seref Baviraj”, the real estate developer “Biscotti House” and the tire company “Neta”. Her golf bag is branded by Japan’s number one online retailer, Rakuten, and her cap is branded by SMBC Nikko Security and Jokai, a public welfare institution.

In July, she inked a deal for socks from shoemaker Captain U. Socks are usually included in an entire sportswear deal, but Miroco has a separate deal with unprecedented terms. Apparently, this is a huge 20-year deal during which the company pays 1 million yen annually. I think this is a good sponsorship deal that will give her a solid footing to become a seasoned golfer.

At the age of 11, while still classified as an amateur player, Miroku signed 12 sponsorship deals, more than many professional players. Miroku takes this great responsibility very seriously. “I’m still in primary school, so I don’t know the details of the agreement or the amount of money paid, but I will do my best for everyone who supports me.”

A message from Miura Kazuyoshi

Miroku’s great popularity also made her vulnerable to harsh criticism. And that’s exactly what happened when she finished 17th at the Junior World Championships in July, one month after the European Championships, during which she performed superbly. Miroku was open about her disappointment: “I was so frustrated. I couldn’t win while many supporters had their hopes on me.”

But soccer player Miura Kazuyoshi, a former national team player respected by Kenichi, sent her a heartwarming message of encouragement that helped her overcome criticism and get back on her feet. “There is a famous wisdom of the great athlete Mr. Kazuo that I learned from my father, and he It helped me a lot to deal with criticism positively, and motivated me to try my best to be a true athlete like to become Mr. Kazuo. This wisdom says: It’s normal to be in the sports headlines when you win, but only true champions are in the headlines when they lose.”

Some describe Miroku as a prodigy player, and she also refers to herself with the same expression. The truth is that it was her effort that made this miracle happen. Miroko trains for about six to ten hours every day to set new, unprecedented records by becoming “the first in history, the number one in Japan and the world in golf”. She perseveres in her efforts by turning not only praise and attention, but also criticism into her driving force. I think everyone is excited to see her achieve more.

(Originally written in Japanese, translated from English. Banner photo: Soto Miroko after winning the US Junior Golf European Championship and achieving her first junior golf grand slam in June/July 2022. Courtesy Soto Kenichi)

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